Nation & World News

Senate Blocks Bill To Overhaul Military Sex Assault Prosecutions

By Scott Neuman on March 6th, 2014

The Senate has voted to block a bill that would have removed the authority of senior military commanders to prosecute sexual assault cases within their ranks.

On Thursday’s 55-45 vote, short of the 60 necessary to move the legislation forward, the Senate set aside the Military Justice Improvement Act sponsored by New York Democratic Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand.

USA Today says the bill “would take away military commanders’ authority to decide whether to prosecute sexual assault cases — and other offenses punishable by at least one year in jail — and give it to prosecutors in the Judge Advocate General’s office.”

The Associated Press writes:

“The Pentagon’s leadership vigorously opposed the measure, arguing that officers should have more responsibility, not less, for the conduct of the men and women they lead.”

“Proponents of the bill insisted that far-reaching changes in the Uniform Code of Military Justice are necessary to curb a scourge of rapes and sexual assaults.”

“Gillibrand’s effort bitterly divided the Senate in a battle that smashed conventional lines on gender and political party.”

Conservative Sens. Ted Cruz of Texas and Rand Paul of Kentucky backed her effort, but as NPR’s Liz Halloran reported last month, it faced opposition from powerful fellow Democrats, including Sen. Claire McCaskill and Armed Services Committee Chairman Sen. Carl Levin, as well as the president himself.

The AP says: “Although the vote sent the bill back to the Senate calendar, it was unlikely to be the final word. Gillibrand was expected to pursue the issue this spring when the Armed Services Committee begins work on a sweeping defense policy bill for the 2015 fiscal year.”

Gillibrand’s legislation comes amid a rash of high-profile sexual assault and sexual misconduct cases in the ranks, prompting President Obama in December to order a one-year review of the military’s response to the problem. On Thursday, Army Brig.-Gen. Jeffrey Sinclair pleaded guilty to adultery before a court-martial in North Carolina, but still faces a charge of sexually assaulting a female captain.

Copyright 2014 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

This entry was posted in News from NPR. Bookmark the permalink.

Comments are closed.

 

More Stories in News from NPR

Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel.

Hagel: Stress Of ‘Nonstop War’ Forcing Out Good Soldiers

In an interview with NPR’s Morning Edition, outgoing Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel says he is concerned about the toll of repeatedly rotating the same soldiers back to the front lines.


Rowan Atkinson gestures during an interview in 2007. The famous British comedian who plays Mr. Bean is selling his McLaren F1 race car.

Got $15 Million? Actor Rowan Atkinson Has A Car For Sale

The actor who most famously plays Mr. Bean wrecked the high-performance car back in 2011. Luckily, he wasn’t seriously injured. But it did cost him $1.4 million to get it fixed.


Ukraine's president Petro Poroshenko speaks at a meeting of the National Security and Defense Council (NSDC) of Ukraine on Sunday.

Ukraine’s President Hopes To Revive Shattered Peace Process

Petro Poroshenko says that the only way forward in ending the conflict with Russian-backed separatists in the country’s east is to revive a cease-fire agreement forged in September in Minsk.


A polar bear walks in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge.The Obama administration is proposing new protections in the region that would ban mining and drilling.

Obama Proposes New Protections For Arctic National Wildlife Refuge

The president recommends more than 12 million acres of the region receive the highest level of protection available for public lands.


Protester chant slogans in downtown Cairo, Egypt, on Sunday to mark the fourth anniversary of of the 2011 uprising that toppled President Hosni Mubarak. Several people have been killed in clashes with security forces.

Several Killed In Egypt Amid Clashes Marking Anniversary Of Uprising

Police cracked down on demonstrators marking the fourth anniversary of mass protests that ousted President Hosni Mubarak.


Thank you for your support

WUFT depends on the support of our community — people like you — to help us continue to provide quality programming to North Central Florida.
Become a Sustainer
I want to support FM 89.1/NPR
I want to support Florida's 5/PBS
Donate a Vehicle
Day Sponsorship Payments
Underwriting Payments